Long Snapper Greg Warren: Playing the Cowbell for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Mimi McCannCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

Every September, I make the long awaited journey to Heinz Field to kick off another season of rooting for the Steelers.

Besides the obvious fact that I am there to watch the football, I also like to survey the people in their jerseys.  

My sister and I assess the potential compatibility of couples based on whose jersey they are each wearing.  We have faith in a couple who are decked out in a Roethlisberger and Ward combo.

We're a little less hopeful about the couple with one wearing say Parker and the other Mendenhall.  Doomed are the couples with one person in a Steeler jersey and their partner in the opposing team jersey.  

Every year I say that this is the year that I invest in my authentic throwback Greg Warren jersey.  Every year, the only thing that stops me is that it is an expensive yet under appreciated statement that I will be making.  

Special Teams just don't get enough love in my eyes. They have to be absolutely accurate when called upon.  

Long snappers need to be accurate 100 percent of the time.  You take it for granted but when there is a botched effort, it is costly. Everyone remembers the botched snap by Harrison after Warren was sidelined with a season ending knee injury against the Giants last year. 

The long-snapper position is a highly specialized one and yet it is perceived to lack the smash-mouth dimension which always leaves lots of room for comedy.  

I'll leave the comedy to The Onion, who did publish an excellent piece last year lampooning a former long snapper Dad hoping that his son will someday grow into an NFL long snapper, and focus on the necessity of the position.  

Nothing would afford me a better opportunity to get a sense of the often overlooked life of an NFL long snapper than an in-depth interview with our own Greg Warren.

First, Greg, congratulations on the grant to build a football field in the downtown area of your hometown! I applaud your commitment to providing opportunities for the kids in your community!!!

You made a lot of your opportunities to get your start in football.  I read that your were a walk on at UNC.  What was your goal when you tried out for the Tar Heels?

You were signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005.  I know that the Pats drafted a long snapper in the sixth round this year—How do most long snappers get into the pros—were you typical?

Players at other positions watch film in order to improve their game. Besides repetition, what do you use in order to improve your skills?

Do you call the blocking like a center?

We saw a roughing the holder call in the Super Bowl—following your injury, do you feel that there are adequate rules to protect you at your position?

How does a long snapper get to the Pro Bowl and have you ever had it as a goal of yours (especially since the Browns' long snapper has been for the last two years in a row!)?

Do you have a guy at the long snapper position who was an inspiration to you?

How are you preparing for your competition with Mark Estermyer in order to retain you position on the Steeler roster?

Do you have much anonymity in Pittsburgh or are you recognized on a regular basis?

Give me your thoughts on the career of former Pamela Anderson beau and 15 year veteran Chargers'  long snapper David Binn.

I have read that you were a teaching assistant before playing football.  What are your career plans after you leave the game someday?

Who is your closest friend on the Steelers? Is there a special teams clique?

Lastly, long snappers on a football team remind me of Will Farrell playing the cow bell with Blue Oyster Cult: a seemingly subtle part of the production until we get a glimpse behind the scenes. If a long snapper was a member of a band, what instrument would you play?

Thank you so much Greg—you have been a good sport!  I appreciate the time you have given me so that I can understand more about a position that is critical yet under the radar!

Good luck with the competition and congratulations again on your plans for the new football field in your hometown.

If you happen see No. 60 in the stands, feel free to wave it probably will be me!